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Jengo Demo Impressions: Art in Motion

Robot Wizard Jengo demo impressions.jpg

(All images taken from my playthrough of the demo, make sure to click on the images for better quality).

South-African developed Jengo is the first game from Robot Wizard, and you can play the short demo right now. It's a 2079 MB download via Steam and will give you an idea of what to expect from this old-school, point-and-click adventure.

Robot Wizard announced Jengo in April 2016, and the first thing that drew my attention was the art, and I am happy to say that even though the demo is an alpha build, and very much a work-in-progress, the art is every bit what I hoped it to be. It is indeed as if you've walked into an enchanted painting, and you're about to have a fantastic adventure.

With that first Jengo reveal I said about the screenshots and concept art that is was as if an incredibly talented artist wandered into a video game and decided to paint a story of the world around him, and I still hold to that after playing the demo. This quality extends from cut scenes to actual gameplay and is something that I cannot wait to explore further.

Jengo characters.jpg Jengo.jpg

It would be fair to say that Jengo is already a beautifully crafted work of art and that the finished product will be a jewel for its art alone. In my time with the demo, I came across just a few of Jengo's characters, and the detail that went into creating each of these quirky gents and ladies, is astonishing, especially considering that a two-man team is making this game.

Talking about the different characters; their good looks aren't all that they've got going for them, there's a story behind them as they also each represent a satirical reflection on video game tropes. I've poked one of the developers, (Mr. Graeme Selvan) about these characters that we only briefly interact with during the demo, and he did indeed confirm that "There will be massive stories behind them all."

Jengo makes fun at everything; Social Justice Warriors, angry lesbians, big-budget annual game releases, sexuality, they even make fun of themselves - game developers. In the Old Meta, nothing is holy, and everything deserves to be laughed at.

Gorgeous art and jokes aside, what about Jengo's gameplay, story, and puzzle-solving mechanics? Your game can look as good as an award-winning 60's album cover, but if everything else falls flat then Robot Wizard is targeting the wrong audience.

853890_screenshots_20180515142703_1.jpg Jengo interface.jpg

As you can see in the above screenshot, Jengo's User Interface hinges on simple, yet very efficient mechanics, and is very true to that old-school, point-and-click adventure genre. There are five main gameplay mechanics:

  • Look At
  • Pick Up
  • Use
  • Talk To

The fifth is, of course, your backpack that serves as your inventory. Some items in your inventory can be combined, and to use an item you simply drag it to your target. The other four comes up as a wheel that you select an action from when you hover over a character or object. I had no issues at all using the inventory or action wheel. Gameplay overall was smooth and the map is a pleasure to navigate through.

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The heart of adventure gaming beats to the rhythm of its puzzles, and so far, Jengo is dancing to a beautiful song. The slice of puzzle-solving you unravel in the demo promises a quality that ranges from easy to more complicated - yet above all, extremely entertaining. In the demo at least, Jengo did no hand-holding, and I must admit that I got stuck right at the end. Pro tip - don't forget that you can combine items in your inventory.

Talking about good vibes, so far, Jengo's music is on the heels of its gorgeous art, it's that good. It sets the mood perfectly, and lures you to wander across the desert, find adventure in shady bars, and hook up with the girl at the caravan park. No, wait, Jeff isn't into girls, he's into finding a video game that doesn't exist in this modern age of social media etiquette, big-budget hype campaigns, ethical issues, and every shade but the colour of fun.

Perhaps Jengo will take him there.

In closing, my only concern with Jengo so far is with the quality of its writing, more specifically, its dialogue. I didn't find it captivating enough, and at times trying too hard to be funny. I am also hoping that there will be more depth to some of the conversations, especially for those moments when the game pokes at some holy cows. I do realize that I only played a fraction of the game, and a very early build at that.

I beg of you, throw us some black humour! Make us all hate to love you!

You can support Jengo on Fig, read more about it here: Three reasons why you should help financially support South African-developed game Jengo.

Jengo releases later this year for PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and the Switch. It also has the support of Playdius as a marketing partner. The demo ended with 'ole Jeff going down the Rabbit toilet hole, I can't wait to see how deep it goes.

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"an incredibly talented artist wandered into a video game"

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